Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What is that Smell?

A few weeks ago I had the priveledge of witnessing first hand, the blooming of the corpse flower at Marie Selby Botanical Garden, also known as Titan Arum.  It is a massive flower about 3.5 feet tall and stinks to high heaven, hence the name.  It is only pollinated by flies and beetles so it needs to stink to high heaven to attract the insects to it that will pollenate it.  This particular plant had not bloomed since 2007 and the bloom is only open for a mere 18-24 hours and then it's all over.  It was a sight to behold!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Copper River Sockeye Season! Woot!

Copper River salmon is the first salmon to be caught in Alaska each year with the opening usually the third week in May sometime.  This year, the opening day was May 17th and I was waiting with baited breath for the first Copper River sockeye salmon to show up in the markets.  It took a few days but as soon as I heard it was available, I knew I needed to make a trek to Tampa to the closest Costco store to get some.  It was so fresh and beautiful and it is my favorite salmon on earth.

I will buy a side or two and cut it into portions and then vacuum seal them and freeze it so I will have it to enjoy for a while.  The fresh pieces I put to good use immediately and since it is also mango season, I decided to make a fresh mango salsa to go with it.

The mango salsa is simple.  Cut up the mango into cubes, add red onion, lime juice and lime zest, serrano chile, a clove of garlic and some olive oil. Oh, don't forget the fresh cilantro!

I served it over saffron rice and voila, the perfect spring fish dish.  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Life Gives you Lychee's Make Lychee Martini's

It is lychee season in SW Florida and the lychee trees are loaded with crimson red fruit ready to be picked.  The lychee is a tropical and subtropical tree native to China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia.  It grows quite well in Sarasota, Florida so I am fortunate to have lots of lychee at my fingertips.  So, what do you do with tons of lychee?  I have just been enjoying peeling them and eating them fresh but I also have tried my hand at making lycheetini's, a lychee martini of sorts.  Here is how you do it:


  • Ice cubes
  • 6 ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces lychee juice
  • Splash vermouth
  • 2 lychees, for garnish


In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add vodka, lychee juice and vermouth. Shake until chilled. Pour into 2 martini glasses and garnish with lychees. (recipe courtesy of Danny Boome)
Since I'm using fresh lychees, there is lots of juice. The juice is not clear so it makes the drink look cloudy but the flavor is really intense so I don't mind they are cloudy...they make you feel like you're sitting on a cloud!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I was taking a stroll around a botanical garden here in Sarasota the other day and came upon some really beautiful mushrooms unlike anything I'd ever seen before either in person or in photographs.  I took some photos of them and then came home and contacted as many mycologists I could think of, to see if I could get an ID on these specimens. 

My friend Taylor Lockwood saw my photos and said he thought they looked a lot like a mushroom he'd photographed in Australia, called Agaricus rotalis.  I then contacted the US expert on Agaricus mushrooms, Richard Kerrigan who agreed, they were Agaricus rotalis which had only been recorded in Australia and Hawaii and the Caribbean.  He said he and his colleagues preferred using the name Agaricus endoxanthus which is an older name and more correct.  He also said this is the first collection from nature of this species in North America, and I found it!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

They Grow up so Fast!

The little fluff balls are cute as can be.  Right now I will have to keep mama and the babies separated from the other girls to be certain they will be safe until they get a little bigger.  Already Ginger is chatting away at them with commands that only they seem to understand.  She has a different voice she uses with them and every time there is new food or something new to them, she uses her "other" clucking voice to warn them about whatever it is.  It's fun to hear her communicating with the chicks. After about 12 days their little wings are starting to grow. I introduce more foods into their diet, like fresh fruit.